Let's Talk About It

Michelle Obama Gets Starkly Honest About The Reality Of Menopause

The former first lady has approached the menopause milestone and isn’t afraid to get real about it.

Michelle Obama talks menopause.
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Michelle Obama is throwing formality to the wind in her latest interview, where she gets candid about her experiences with menopause. Just kidding. This is former First Lady Michelle Obama we’re talking about, so even in this more relaxed conversation, she is still a regal and eloquent queen in her convictions.

The best-selling author recently sat down for an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, where she recounted her interview with them eight years ago, discussing her curiosity surrounding menopause.

“I want to know what I'm getting into,” Michelle told the magazine in 2014, joking, “My mom is like, 'Menopause? Yeah, I think I went through it.' She doesn't remember anything.”

The now 58-year-old shared this week, “There's a lot we don't know. There is not a lot of conversation about menopause. I'm going through it, and I know all of my friends are going through it. And the information is sparse.”

She makes a good point — menopause has been a taboo topic until recently.

She talked about her group of friends that was formed during her time in the White House, saying, “I find that when we get together, and we're moving, and we're laughing, then we spend a little time talking about what we're going through. ‘What's a hot flash?’ We have girlfriends around the table who are OBGYNs, who have real information. All of that keeps us lifted up.”

During their time doing group fitness classes, she earned the name “Drillmaster,” to which she playfully admitted, “I'm not always leading the workout, but the workout still happens. All of my friends are healthier because we do it better when we're doing it together.”

However, she acknowledges the importance of adjusting how she works out according to her body’s evolution, saying, “Some of it is menopause; some of it is aging. I find that I cannot push myself as hard as I used to. That doesn't work out for me. That's when I tear a muscle or pull something, and then I'm out. The recovery time is not the same.” These days she prefers less high-intensity and more expansive movement, like deep stretching.

While it's common for women to report things like heat flashes and mood swings, Michelle illuminates a more subtle symptom, adding, ‘I never used to weigh myself. I'm not trying to stick to numbers, but when you're in menopause, you have this slow creep that you just don't realize. We're all in menopause with stretchy [waist] bands and our athleisure wear on, and you look up, and you can't fit the outfits you had last year. I have to be more mindful, not obsessive, but more mindful.”

Although she’s certainly not complaining. She shared, “I think my skin still feels healthy. My hair is still in my head. These are the things that I have to count my blessings for. I am still physically active, and my goal now, instead of having 'Michelle Obama arms,' I just want to keep moving.”

Let’s be honest; though we will all admire the arms, it’s definitely not the reason you are beloved by the world.

Michelle recently published her second book, The Light We Carry, which she describes as a “collection of stories and practices that have helped me sort through all the challenges and questions that keep us up at night: How do I know I’m good enough? How do I bring my whole self to the table? How can I overcome my fears?” and is now available in all stores.